8/2-8/4 Series Preview: San Diego Padres

A-Rod considering plea deal, suspension may not come until Monday
Friday Night Open Thread
Where homers go to die. (Getty)
Where homers go to die. (Getty)

For the first time since the place opened in 2004, the Yankees are heading to Petco Park for an interleague series against the Padres. They never even got to play there before the walls were brought in. New ballparks are always fun, so this weekend will be pretty neat. New York wraps up the West Coast leg of the road trip with three games against their 1998 World Series opponent this weekend.

What Have They Done Lately?
At one point in late-June, the Padres got to two games over .500 for the first time since April 2011. No, really. They’ve gone 13-23 since, though they did win four straight before losing their last game. At 50-59 with a -57 run differential, the Friars sit in fourth place in the NL West and are nine games back of a playoff spot.

Offense
For about a decade, the Padres were a pitching and defense team that really struggled to score runs. That’s not the case anymore. Quite the opposite, really. They average 4.0 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+, slightly below-average marks that rank better than the Yankees (3.9/82). San Diego is currently without OF Cameron Maybin (29 wRC+ in limited time), C Yasmani Grandal (99 wRC+), and 1B/OF Kyle Blanks (109 wRC+), all of whom are on the DL and won’t return this series. OF Carlos Quentin (142 wRC+) is day-to-day with a knee problem but could be back in the lineup as soon as tonight.

Cabrera. (Christian Petersen/Getty)
Cabrera. (Christian Petersen/Getty)

Former Rule 5 Draft pick and current leadoff man SS Everth Cabrera (109 wRC+) quietly leads the NL in stolen bases (37) and is having a great year, but he’s reportedly about to be suspended for his ties to Biogenesis. Sucks. The under-rated OF Chris Denorfia (104 wRC+) bats second ahead of 3B Chase Headley (103 wRC+), who has been battling injuries all year. 1B Yonder Alonso (111 wRC+) cleans up with Quentin out, then they’ve got OF Will Venable (101 wRC+) and 2B Jeff Gyorko (97 wRC+). It’s pronounced Jerk-o. Seriously. C Nick Hundley (96 wRC+) catches full-time with Grandal out.

The Padres have a decent bench by NL standards. 1B/OF Jesus Guzman (102 wRC+ vs. LHP) hits lefties well, but 1B/OF Mark Kotsay (54 wRC+ vs. RHP) doesn’t do much against righties. Yes, Kotsay is still playing. UTIL Alexi Amarista (97 wRC+) can play anywhere and play it well. IF Logan Forsythe (70 wRC+) is more potential than production at the moment. Former Yankees farmhand C Rene Rivera (31 wRC+ in very limited time) backs up Hundley. San Diego doesn’t hit many homers, but they have stolen the third most bases in the game (82). It’s not just Cabrera.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Andrew Cashner
Cashner, 26, is one of those guys with ace stuff but not ace results or ace durability. The right-hander has been on the DL three times in three full big league seasons, each time with a shoulder issue. He also sliced a tendon in his thumb with a hunting knife over the winter. Cashner has a 3.88 ERA (3.86 FIP) in 17 starts (and five relief appearances), plus his walk (2.91 BB/9 and 7.8 BB%), homer (0.81 HR/9 and 9.8% HR/FB), and ground ball (53.4%) rates are all strong. His strikeout rate (6.31 K/9 and 16.9 K%) leaves something to be desired. Cashner lives in the mid-90s with his four-seam fastball and he’ll run it up to 98-99 on occasion, but his low-80s slider and mid-80s changeup are nasty secondary offerings. Many think he’s a reliever long-term because of he can’t stay healthy, but the Padres are giving him a chance to show he can start. The Yankees have never faced Cashner before.

Ross. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)
Ross. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Saturday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Tyson Ross
How often does a pitcher leave the Athletics and actually get better? Not often, but the 26-year-old Ross is the rare exception. He’s got a 2.90 ERA (3.65 FIP) in five starts and 19 relief appearances for San Diego, pitching so well in relief that they moved him into the rotation. Ross walks a few too many (3.66 BB/9 and 9.9 BB%), but he has a decent strikeout rate (7.17 K/9 and 19.3 K%) and very good homer (0.61 HR/9 and 7.0% HR/FB) and ground ball (51.8%) numbers. Ross has five pitches but only really uses two, his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer and mid-80s slider. He’ll use those two pitches a combined 83% of the time or so. Low-to-mid-90s two-seamers and cutters as well as a mid-80s changeup round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen Ross a few times over the years while he was with Oakland, and they roughed him up nearly every time.

Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Ian Kennedy
All we need is Joba Chamberlain to appear in this game and we can have a Save the Big Three! reunion party. The Padres made a nifty little move to buy low on IPK at the trade deadline, snagging him for two relievers (one in Double-A) and a draft pick. Of course, Kennedy was acquired so cheaply because he has been awful this year. The 28-year-old had a 5.23 ERA (4.59 FIP) in 21 starts before the trade — this will be his first start with San Diego — and his peripherals weren’t anything special: 7.84 K/9 (19.7 K%), 3.48 BB/9 (8.7 BB%), 1.31 HR/9 (12.5% HR/FB), and 36.1%. Kennedy is a true six-pitch pitcher with three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamer, mid-80s cutter) and three offspeed pitches (mid-80s slider, low-80s changeup, mid-70s curveball). He rarely uses the slider nowadays and the changeup is his bread-and-butter. It’s why he hasn’t had much a platoon split over the years. Kennedy has never faced the team that originally drafted him.

Gregerson. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)
Gregerson. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

Bullpen Status
San Diego’s bullpen isn’t as strong as we’re used to seeing. In fact, the entire pitching staff isn’t all that good. RHP Huston Street (6.13 FIP) is a cardiac closer who gives up a freaking ton of homers. I’m talking ten homers in 35.1 innings this year (2.55 HR/9). Even Hughes is embarrassed for him. Setup man RHP Luke Gregerson (2.90 FIP) continues to be excellent, and RHP Nick Vincent (2.38 FIP) has impressed in his limited opportunities.

The Padres shipped primary lefty Joe Thatcher to Arizona for Kennedy, so their only southpaw right now is LHP Colt Hynes (6.98 FIP in very limited time). RHP Sean O’Sullivan (3.54 FIP in limited time) and RHP Tim Stauffer (3.60 FIP) round out what is currently a six-man bullpen. That will probably change at some point. It’s worth noting that manager Bud Black is a Showalter-level strategic manager who always seems to make the right pitching change and whatnot. There’s only so much he can do with this group, however.

Both the Yankees and Padres were off yesterday, so their bullpens are relatively fresh. David Robertson was unavailable on Wednesday because of a tired arm and it’s unclear if he’ll be available tonight or at all this weekend. We’ll find out soon enough. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out Gaslamp Ball for the latest and greatest on the Friars.

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A-Rod considering plea deal, suspension may not come until Monday
Friday Night Open Thread
  • SellTheFarmRay

    Anyone else going to the games this weekend? I’m going down to SD tomorrow and will be going to the game on Sunday.

    • forensic

      There are several people from here going at some point this weekend, including me going on Saturday and Sunday.

      • I’m not the droids you’re looking for…

        Wow didn’t realize there was a SD contingent on the site. Jealous!

        • forensic

          I’m not in SD, we’re in Vegas and making a long weekend out of it. But, it works both ways too. We still haven’t gotten to go to YSIII yet. Hopefully at some point we’ll make it there, but for now it’s just west coast games for us.

        • SellTheFarmRay

          Coming down from LA. Have never been to PETCO so seemed like a good opportunity.

    • trr

      Enjoy it ray!
      I’ve never been to San Diego.

      Stay classy at the game!

  • dkidd

    am i the only one who thinks there’s way too much inter-league play? it feels like it’s been going on for 2 months

    • trr

      It goes on EVERY DAY with the new alignment

      • I’m not the droids you’re looking for…

        Hate it. Part of me longs to return to two leagues, no divisions, no inter league, but maybe still have 5 playoff teams in each league…

    • alen

      i’m waiting for the day when they combine both leagues or the inter league play will be against every team but keep the classic league rules

      so annoying having the teams play the other league teams so often.

  • JFH

    Too bad they changed the dimensions of the park. It could have been the one park friendly to Phil Hughes.

    • B-Rando

      …and every other pitcher, ever.

  • Former ACE MannyGeee

    Could be a fun series with Granderson coming back.

  • forensic

    OF Carlos Quentin (142 wRC+) is day-to-day with a knee problem but could be back in the lineup as soon as tonight.

    He’s always day-to-day with his knees, but doesn’t typically miss much more than a day or so, and they were off yesterday so he’ll probably be back.

    Former Rule 5 Draft pick and current leadoff man SS Everth Cabrera (109 wRC+) quietly leads the NL in stolen bases (37) and is having a great year, but he’s reportedly about to be suspended for his ties to Biogenesis. Sucks.

    Ugh, don’t remind me about the suspension. Also, he hasn’t hit at all since coming back from his injury so the party may be over for him anyway.

    /storiesfrommyfantasyteam

    • vicki

      i hope CQ makes it back tomorrow, for a nice, tight inside pitch from nova. otherwise it’s hard to muster up much dislike for the preachers. besides ipk, of course.

      • Manny’s BanWagon

        Why do you dislike CQ?

  • Lukaszek

    Imagine if Phil Hughes throws a perfect game at PETCO, that’d shut the haters up

    • trr

      If Phil Hughes throe a perfecto anywhere, I’ll split that hat with Kabak!

    • Gonzo

      Dueling no-hiiters through 9 for IPK and Phil.

      • vicki

        redbeard does fit the jason hammel/dillon gee scrub-pitcher-the-yankees-can’t-hit profile.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Yanks sweep. Forensic posts bail.

    • forensic

      :-)

      You’re gonna have to figure out what to do next season when he’s gone.

  • bri

    Anyone else going to tonights game? Buddy and I are drinking all day in gas lamp then heading over at 5 or so

  • Nathan

    I love that stadium. Took the tour when I was down there visiting my cousin in the Marines. Have fun to those going this weekend…

    • Wheels

      Saw the Padres play the Dodgers there last year, the place is awesome. New, yet laid back.

  • Cofuzz

    Dale Thayer.